Co-Written by Harsh Gupta & Ankit Jha
On a given information from a community mobiliser, A Team from IGSSS visited Baljeet Nagar, near Patel Nagar in the West Delhi District to do a fact finding about the incident that took place on July,5,2017. On the field, they gathered information regarding the eviction, which according to residents, was forcefully done by DDA and local police without any prior notice. Locals reported that they were not given due notice about the eviction, and were made to leave their houses in a hurry. The similar incident took place on June,25, 2017 when the police and DDA demolished the houses which were in the front of this slum, howeverthey assured that the rest of the house will not be evicted. After the eviction(25th June) residents of slum also went to meet the Parliamentary Representative Ms Minakshi Lekhi (MP, New Delhi) for her support, however, she denied saying she can’t do anything for them but assured that no other eviction will take place after this day. But unfortunately on July5th, 2017 Police force along with DDA officials visited the slum with Bulldozer and asked the residents to leave the place as soon as possible. They were given only the time to take their important belongings out of their houses. Residents said that within 15 to 20 minutes they began to bulldoze the houses. Residents said that in the time given they were not able to take all their belongings out of their houses and due to which most of their household belongings (Stove,Utensils, Gas cylinder) have gone under the debris of the collapsed houses.
According to residents more then 2000 people lived in this slum before this demolition took place and around 500 households are affected by this demolition. The houses were semi built, partially Pucca houses made of bricks and tin roofs. Residents told the team that some people have been living in this slum for more then 10 years and have documents and proofs to validate that. The tenure of people living in this slum ranges from 3 to 10 years.When fact finding team asked for some proofs, residents showed them their 5 to 10 years old Ration cards, Electricity bills and Voter id cards of the same address from where they have been evicted. The security of tenure has been violated from time to time in Baljeet Nagar as people live in the formidable condition and continuous threat of eviction.Any eviction without prior notice and without having a proper land use plan from the government is a violation of Convention on the Social, Economic and Cultural Rights, 1966 to which India has also ratified. It should also be noted that no evictions should be done in nights, during bad weather conditions, on religious holidays, before elections and during examinations of children. As the monsoon rains have been drenching Delhi this week this act was inhuman from the officials.
Baljeet Nagar is part of Anand Parvat, a settlement createdalmost 2 decades ago when immigrants from nearby states,primarily Rajasthan and Bihar, moved to Delhi in search ofbetter employment and education opportunities.When team visited the slum, they found that the residents were collecting and digging their belongings which had gone under the debris. Most of the residents reported that they have no place to go and will again live in the same houses that they had built for themselves. Due to this forced eviction, many could not secure their belonging as they were protesting not to leave their homes, however the officials did not listen to them and forcefully bulldozed their homes. Hence the immediate need of the families affected by this incident is related to water, Food, temporary shelter (Shaded) till they recover their belongings from under the debris and start to make their living. As a secondary need they will require support for the proper rehabilitation within the legal framework. Things to be taken in notice is that although there’s a big population of women in the slum, no women police officers were present at the time of demolition.
As residents are still looking and searching for their belongings through barging under the debris, many have not had food. Children and women all are working under the scorching heat to take out their belongings out of the debris. These children and women need the utmost support as they have been evicted without any security whatsoever. They are not successful yet from getting any support from local government authorities. In this forceful eviction, two residents from slum also got injured as they tried to protest and were forcefully removed by the police. Two of them were taken to the police station and one is still locked up in jail. The father of this youth is worried about his protection and said that he will have to arrange for his bail.
A report by Harsh Gupta, IGSSS and Ankit Jha, YUVA
(All photographs taken by Harsh Gupta)